Dear artists, never stop yourself from telling your stories freely...

As the release date for 'Padmavat' comes closer, and the simultaneous threats from extremist groups continue to pour in - one must wonder, what lies ahead in the fate of this 200-crore budget magnum opus.

As the possibility of violence looms across states, with a number of incidents already reported - including a theater being set to fire allegedly by the 'Karni Sena', would people still venture out of their homes to watch the movie in the big-screens?

We might soon be getting an answer to all these uncertanities lingering in our minds, but the greater question that lies ahead is - would Bollywood dare produce another mega-budget historic drama, if it has the slighest possibility of offending some fundamentalist group somewhere?

Would orthodox extremism and mob-violence win over freedom of expression and artistic liberty?

The truth is - it is indeed quite a nuisance for any producer to put their money on stake for a venture that has to go through such struggle to eventually make it to the theaters. But that is precisely what this fight is about - a resistance against the ideology that tries to silence every thought that goes against theirs.

It isn't just the right to express history freely, but the right to express it in your own fashion that may not necessarily meet someone else's textbook definitions.

The point is - why does a movie have to be "factually accurate" to be considered "acceptable"?

And doesn't the same right of interpretation lies with every artist - be it a painter, an author or a poet?

How did a single person get to a position to decide for an entire nation if the subject of 'female sexuality' as presented in 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' was 'unnecessary' or 'unworthy'? How and why do they keep generic words like 'sexual intercourse' or 'gay' from being spoken on-screen, all in the name of 'tradition'?

Why does a person, who sits on a position of power and influence, get the leverage to impose his personal ideologies on artists and bars what others should or should not see?

The answer to most of these constantly raising questions is simple.

It should eventually be left to the takers to decide - how they want to perceive what is being presented to them and no 'Senas' or 'Fatwas' or 'Censor boards' should bar one's creative limits.

And the only way to fight the regressive attitude of suppressing the right to express our individualist thoughts is to continue to put our ideas in the public forum tirelessly.

As French philosopher Albert Camus once said - "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

Here's to hoping 2018 will be filled with yet another set of ventures that challenge conservative societal norms and opens the doors for previously unspoken taboo subjects.

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